UPDATE 4:25 p.m. EDT: A second body reportedly was pulled from the rubble Sunday of three buildings that collapsed following a suspected natural gas explosion and fire in New York City's East Village. WABC, New York, quoted city officials as saying two bodies have now been recovered, possibly the two men reported missing in Thursday's disaster.
Human remains have been discovered in the rubble of a building that caught fire following an apparent gas explosion in New York City’s East Village, the New York Post reported. The remains were discovered Sunday afternoon at the site of the fire that brought down the building at 121 Second Ave. and two adjacent buildings. It was unclear if the remains belonged to a male or female. The remains were moved to the city medical examiner’s office for identification.
Two men, Nicholas Figueroa and Moises Locon, were reported missing following the explosion and fire that brought down the structures. Figueroa, 23, was on a date at the Sushi Park restaurant that was at the heart of the disaster and Locon, 27, worked at the restaurant and is believed to have been standing nearby, the Post reported.
Authorities had previously suggested it was unlikely they would find anyone in the wreckage of the buildings. When asked about whether anyone in the buildings would have survived the explosion, New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito told the Associated Press: “I would doubt that very seriously.”
It was reported late Saturday utility workers inspecting the site found dangerous gas line connections that created what a Consolidated Edison spokesman called a "hazardous situation.” Con Ed spokesman Allan Drury said workers inspecting the building on Aug. 6 found leaks in hoses that were part of the building's gas infrastructure, and the company shut off the building's gas for about 10 days, until it was determined to be safe, Reuters reported.
New York Mayor Bill De Blasio said Friday the explosion -- which injured 22 people, four critically, and left two people missing -- could have been the result of someone having “inappropriately accessed” one of the building's gas lines.
Hyeonil Kim, the owner of Sushi Park told the New York Times Con Ed employees told him gas intended for his premises was being siphoned off -- so-called illegal gas tapping -- for use in the newly renovated apartments upstairs in the five-story building.